Ziggy Marley on Black HIV/AIDS awareness: It’s a human thing

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In 1990, I was asked to contribute a track to a children’s album to help fund research by the Pediatric AIDS Foundation (now called the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation). Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, and Elton John were some of the other artists who joined me on “For Our Children.” No one can inject the essence of rock and roll into “Itsy Bitsy Spider” like Little Richard can.

Music is one of the most powerful vehicles we have for making positive change, be it fighting AIDS or raising consciousness. A song can inspire millions of people to move and act. It gets into our psyche very powerfully without us even realizing.

With my brothers and sisters, the Melody Makers, I recorded “Give a Little Love,” which sums up my view of how we humans should approach the ills of life—whether within our neighborhood or around the world. It was the first track on “For Our Children.”

We got to give a little love, have a little hope,

Make this world a little better,

Try a little more, harder than before,

Let’s do what we can do together.

Young people today may not realize that 25 years ago AIDS was a frightening epidemic in the United States. There was little treatment, especially for children. Elizabeth Glaser was a mother in Los Angeles living with the virus. Her daughter had already died from AIDS and her son was at risk of death. Because no one else seemed to be fighting for the lives of children with HIV, Elizabeth stood up.

“For Our Children” was one the early fundraising efforts for pediatric AIDS research. I wanted to be part of the album because I believe in the powerful spirit of children. Elizabeth once said something that goes to my heart: “The lesson of my life … is a very simple one, Love.”

Love is the foundation of everything. The love that Elizabeth had for her child and for all children was a powerful force. Research funded by the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation helped lead to treatment so that the world may soon see an entire generation free from AIDS.

Nearly 700 children are born with HIV every single day—most in sub-Saharan Africa. As human beings, we should care. After all, we are all the same people. It’s not an American thing or an African thing. It’s a human thing. If we have the means to help, we should find the way.

The only way is through mothers. When every pregnant woman around the world who is living with HIV can get the medicine she needs to prevent transmitting HIV to her baby, a global generation of children will be born without the virus. What a day that will be.

James Brown said that this is a man’s world. But it was a woman’s world at some point. And I believe that we’re coming back into a period when women are taking their place in the world. The women of this world, the mothers, they are the ones who nurture, who bring forth life.

More than 18 million women have been helped by the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. It is working in 15 countries, many of which are places where the HIV epidemic has affected nearly every family. Babies continue to be born with HIV, and many children are being orphaned.

Something inside of me feels an urge to give love when I see children who need it. For me if I can help someone, I help someone. If I have the means, I do it. The question is, “what is the reason not to do it?”

The answer is, “there is no reason not to do it.”

Ziggy Marley is a reggae artist, having made over a dozen albums with the Melody Makers, as well as four solo studio albums. His fifth studio album, “Rasta Fly,” will be released on April 15, 2014. Beside his work for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Ziggy leads his own charitable organization, United Resources Giving Enlightenment (URGE), which focuses on the needs of children living in poverty.

“For Our Children,” featuring “Give a Little Love,” by Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers is still available for download from iTunes, and other online music stores. The album was also released and sold as “Every Child Deserves a Lifetime.”